Shula Encouraged

All in all, Alabama Head Coach Mike Shula couldn't help but be tickled over his squad's 30-21 win over Southern Miss Saturday night making the Tide 2-0 on the young season, after his stomach settled from all the shifting momentum, that is.

"I don't think I've ever been through a game like that that turned the way that game turned back and forth," Shula said.

After sprinting out to a 10-0 lead it looked like Alabama wouldn't be challenged by the misfortune-stricken Golden Eagles, then, "All of a sudden we find ourselves down 21-10 and nothing seems to be going right. We have penalties, we're not kicking the ball well, but we found a way to get things going."

Bama started the game with a 52-yard bomb to Prothro. It was just Prothro's second career start, and there was good reason for it.

"Yeah, because we were going to throw him the ball on the first play," Shula said. "He makes a bunch of plays."

"We count touches. We didn't get him enough touches last week. The kicking game we count that, kickoff return, punt returns, things like that. We got him a touch as the quarterback. That play we were really supposed to get it outside on the left and they had it contained. He's exciting with the football."

An outstanding shoestring tackle by Wallace Gilberry on a screen play prevented a USM touchdown that would have made the score 28-10 before the half, and the Tide got the ball back with a chance to put together a late first-half score of its own.

"We had some missed assignments, but Wallace overcame that and made a big play," Shula said.

"I thought the drive right before the end of the half was a huge drive. It didn't look pretty but we found a way to make some first downs. We came up with the big play to Prothro, an unbelievable play on his catch. You can't say enough about him."

Shula noted the downsides of Saturday's performance, which included penalties and atrocious punting. Jeff Aul had three punts for a 29 yard average, and he was replaced by Jeremy Schatz, who had a marginally better 35 yard average. Schatz' punts were high enough not to allow any returns.

It was poor punting. We've got to take a look at it. We made a change during the game and we'll evaluate and make a decision on who we're going to go with next week," Shula said.

"Everything it seemed could go wrong went wrong," he said. "The penalty on the PAT (not enough men on the line of scrimmage), then missed the PAT. There's a lot of things that we have to work on and get better at. I'm proud of our guys the way they fought, the way they got better in the second half. Two years ago I'm not sure we would have won that football game, but this year I thought with the group we have being poised and mature, we stayed together and found a way to win the football game."

Shula said Kenneth Darby's renewed vigor in the second half jump started the third-quarter offense.

"We're going to be a good running football team," he said. "We didn't run it like we normally run it tonight. Southern Miss is known to play a lot of guys up in there. When they do that you can try to do what you did two years ago and last year, go ahead and try to run it every time with two tight ends, but we did that two years ago with our third string quarterback the past two years.

"We had a first string quarterback this year with some wide receivers we feel like can take advantages of defenses when their safeties are up on the line of scrimmage and we've got one-on-one with the corners and I thought we did that for the most part.

On the injury front, Shula said, "We're going to have some guys that are beat up. Glen Coffee had a concussion. I haven't talked to our trainer yet so i don't have the full report."

In addition to Coffee, freshman Jimmy Johns appeared to injure his shoulder and was in warm-ups in the second half of the game. Shula said that right guard B.J. Stabler, who played in his first game ever for Alabama after recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery in fall camp, "felt fine. he had three good days of practice, no soreness or anything. I'm not sure how many plays but he'll be better next week."

True freshman Marlon Davis started at right guard, and was out of the game late, leaving Taylor Britt to man the right guard spot. "I think he's okay," Shula said of Davis. I don't know for sure."

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